Djokovic triumphs in Astana, Fritz into top 10 and boosts Turin chances

After lifting the Tel Aviv trophy last week, Novak Djokovic went back-to-back by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the Astana Open final on Sunday afternoon.

Djokovic did not face a single break point in the entire match, so breaks of Tsitsipas at 4-3 in the first set and at 2-2 in the second were enough. The 35-year-old Serb, who is the fifth man to clinch a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals, prevailed after one hour and 15 minutes.

“I’m just very grateful and blessed to be able to play this well at this stage of my life,” Djokovic commented. “You know, 35 is not 25. But I think the experience–probably in these kinds of matches and big occasions–helps, as well, to approach mentally in the right way.”

In an all-American Japan Open final, Taylor Fritz got the best of Frances Tiafoe in a pair of tiebreakers. Fritz was forced out of Seoul last week because of a positive Covid-19 test but got out of quarantine just in time to make it to Tokyo. A somewhat improbable run to the title concluded with a 7-6(3), 7-6(2) victory over Tiafoe–who had won 13 consecutive tiebreakers heading into Sunday.

“[It’s] crazy; I don’t even think it’s set in just how fast the last four or five days have been,” Fritz reflected. “It’s so crazy, and I couldn’t have written it any better. It’s exactly what I needed for the race, for my ranking, to kind of put me in a good position for the end of the year. So it’s amazing.

“I came here confident that I could win a round or two and then see how it goes. I felt like if I could get through my first two matches, then I would probably be playing good enough tennis. So I think that was the real question mark, was those first two matches. But I honestly had a lot of confidence that I was going to win those.

“It’s really crazy that I went from being in quarantine, having to fly here, and then winning the tournament. It’s definitely something that I didn’t expect.”

Fritz will break into the top 10 for the first time in his career on Monday (No. 8) and he will climb to seventh in the race to Turin.


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